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Tacos Al Pastor are thinly sliced pieces of pork that are marinated in a chile pineapple marinade. While traditionally cooked on a spit, making an authentic al pastor at home is easier than you think. These tender pork tacos are perfect for Taco Tuesday or Cinco De Mayo.
Serve the pastor tacos in homemade corn or flour tortillas. Also, try topping the pork tacos with an easy pineapple salsa to bring out the pineapple flavor in the marinade. For a larger meal, serve with Mexican rice or Slow Cooker Mexican beans.
Tacos Al Pastor are tacos made with marinated pork that is thinly sliced. They’re typically served with pineapple, onion, and cilantro. Traditional Al Pastor is made by grilling pork on a vertical spit (similar to shawarma).
This recipe cooks the pork in a skillet instead of on a spit, but you still get the authentic Al Pastor flavor from the pineapple and chile-based marinade.
In English, Al Pastor means “Shepherd Style.” It originates from Lebanese immigrants that moved to Mexico in the early 1900s and brought their method of roasting on a vertical spit. Mexicans then used this technique for marinated pork.
Both Al Pastor and Carnitas use pork but while Al Pastor uses pineapple to contrast the spicy chiles, Carnitas do not and have a stronger pork flavor. Carnitas are made by slow cooking or braising the pork and then browned to finish. Al Pastor is not slow cooked, but browned to cook instead.
Al Pastor is typically made from a boneless pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is an inexpensive cut that is fattier so when cooked it becomes very tender and juicy. You can substitute a pork loin, but it’s a leaner cut of pork so it will be dryer and not as tender and moist in the pastor tacos.
Make the marinade. The marinade is made with boiled and softened guajillo and pasilla chiles, onion, and garlic cloves. Blend them together until smooth with orange juice, pineapple juice, and spices until smooth.
Slice the pork roast. The whole pork roast is thinly sliced, then tossed with the marinade. The thin slices ensure that every bite will be packed with flavor.
Marinate. Add the pork and pineapple marinade into a bowl or resealable bag – give it a toss around and make sure all the pork pieces are covered. Marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight. The longer you can marinate, the more tender and flavorful the meat will be.
Cook. Start by toasting some pineapple slices in a skillet. These will be a smoky, sweet topping for your tacos. Then fry the pork in some oil for a few minutes per side until it’s all cooked. Take care not to overcook – it doesn’t take long.
Serve. For a zesty topping, toss chopped cilantro with onion and lime juice. To serve, just thinly slice the pork, serve in tortillas, and top with the grilled pineapple and cilantro-onion mix.
Tacos Al Pastor are not very spicy. Although there are chiles in the marinade, the sweet pineapple juice balances out the spiciness.
You can also control the heat of the pork tacos by adding more chiles or adding some spicy toppings – such as sliced jalapenos or a spicy salsa.
Storage: Leftover cooked pork can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. For best results, I recommend reheating in a skillet to crisp up the edges again.
Freezing: Leftover cooked pork can be frozen in a freezer bag (excess air removed) for up to 3 months. Or the raw pork shoulder can be combined with the marinade and then frozen in a freezer bag – thaw in the fridge overnight and cook according to instructions.